MI5 'unfairly' pursued spy accused Katia Zatuliveter

 


The Government must examine MI5's professionalism and competency after the security agency "needlessly and unfairly" pursued an innocent woman accused of being a spy, her lawyer said tonight.

Tessa Gregory spoke out after Russian Katia Zatuliveter, 26, won an appeal to remain in the UK after the Security Service argued she was passing information to Moscow.

Miss Zatuliveter was arrested in December last year and served with a deportation order after spooks became suspicious of her.

She had embarked upon an affair in 2006 with Mike Hancock MP, and went on to work for him in Parliament where he sat on the Defence Select Committee.

MI5 alleged she was recruited by Russian intelligence and working to pass them information.

Her case was heard by the secretive Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) with large chunks of evidence heard behind closed doors with even Zatuliveter and her lawyers excluded.

But today, appeal chairman, Mr Justice Mitting, ruled there was insufficient evidence and the Home Secretary's case against Miss Zatuliveter was not strong enough to deport her.

After hugging her client, Miss Gregory slammed the Government and MI5.

Describing the ruling as "historic", Miss Gregory said: "We trust that the Government will reflect very carefully on today's judgment which must raise serious concerns as to the professionalism and competency within the Security Service."

Miss Gregory said her client had lived a "Kafkaesque nightmare" for the last year and had to air personal details about her relationship with Mr Hancock, 65, and a series of other men she had affairs with.

She said: "Katia is, of course, delighted by the judgment and hopes to now put this episode behind her.

"However, it should not have taken 12 months of costly legal proceedings to reach today's outcome.

"If the Security Service, like the court, had rigorously analysed the available evidence, they would never have concluded that she was a Russian spy and we would not be here today.

"Our Security Service is supposed to be responsible for protecting us against serious threats to national security.

"It is therefore extremely worrying that they have chosen to waste their time, at great public expense, needlessly and unfairly pursuing an innocent young woman.

"Their case was built entirely on speculation, prejudice and conjecture.

"It was amateur, poorly researched and compared very unfavourably to the counter-espionage work conducted by the FBI in recent years."

Emerging from the central London hearing, Miss Zatuliveter, who is being represented by a media handler and is expected to sign an exclusive deal to sell her story, said: "I feel fine. I am very happy, incredible relief. My parents are ecstatic."

In his written ruling, the judge said the panel - which featured former MI5 boss Sir Stephen Lander - "unhesitatingly accept" the intelligence service's assessment that Mr Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, would have been "of long-standing interest to one or more of the Russian intelligence agencies".

Mr Justice Mitting wrote: "Even if she was approached in Russia by the FSB/SVR (two of the country's three intelligence agencies), we have seen nothing which satisfies us that she was recruited as an agent or was tasked, or acted, as one.

"We have not reached that conclusion by a narrow margin."

The judge said Miss Zatuliveter would have "been of great interest" to Russian intelligence "but they (her activities) are also entirely consistent with her being an ambitious young woman with an intense interest in politics and international relations".

But the possibility still exists that Miss Zatuliveter - who is due to return home for a short break before returning to the UK - is a spy.

"We cannot exclude the possibility that we have been gulled," the judge added.

"But if we have been, it has been by a supremely competent and rigorously trained operative.

"That does not fit all that we know about the appellant's age, background and characteristics."

The Home Office said it was disappointed with the ruling.

A spokeswoman said: "National security is the primary duty of government and we will take all necessary steps to protect the public from individuals we believe pose a threat and remove them from the UK.

"The court ruled that there were ample grounds for suspicion.

"We are therefore very disappointed by the court's judgment and stand by our decision to pursue deportation on national security grounds."

PA

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam